Oak Bay father accused of killing daughters admits confusion over cash

An Oak Bay man accused of killing his daughters appeared at a loss to explain how he gave his neighbour $2,000 in cash, after testifying only minutes earlier that he had given all the money he had 10 days earlier to people involved with a loan shark.

Andrew Berry appeared increasingly uncomfortable as Crown prosecutor Patrick Weir tried to poke holes in his account of falling deeper into debt with an Asian loan shark named Paul in 2017.

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Berry is charged with the second-degree murder of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey on Christmas Day 2017. The two girls were fatally stabbed in Berry’s Drive apartment. Berry was found naked and with serious injuries in his bathtub. He has pleaded not guilty to the crimes.

Last week, Berry testified that he borrowed $10,000 from Paul at the River Rock casino in January 2017 and could not pay it back. A rock was thrown through his window and two henchmen came to his apartment looking for Paul’s money.

Berry testified that the henchmen stored drugs in his apartment and took his spare key. Berry testified that he was tackled and stabbed when he and the girls returned home from a tobogganing trip on Christmas Day. When he regained consciousness, he said, he found Chloe dead in her bed.

On Monday, Berry testified that he gave $10,000 in cash to the loan shark’s henchmen on July 15 and was left with only about $100. The $10,000 was given to him by his sister, an RCMP officer who was looking after his B.C. Ferries pension because she was worried about his gambling.

Weir asked Berry to look at the banking records of his neighbour Timo Musgrove.

Musgrove has testified that Berry gave him cash and asked him to deposit it to his B.C. Lotteries Playnow account.

“I’m going to suggest you gave Mr. Musgrove $2,000 in cash on July 24 and 25,” said Weir. “Do you agree with that Mr. Berry?”

“I don’t remember,” Berry replied.

“Well that’s something that you would remember, though. Would you agree with that?”

“It was ... yeah ... I don’t remember.”

“Two thousand dollars in cash. That’s a lot of cash,” Weir said. “And if you gave $10,000 to the henchmen on July 15 and didn’t have any cash other than this $100 you’ve told us about, it would be quite remarkable to have $2,000 in cash on the 24th and 25th, wouldn’t it?”

“I can’t remember how much cash I had, but yeah ….” Berry said, his voice trailing off.

“I’m going to suggest to you, Mr. Berry, that you didn’t give $10,000 to the henchmen on the 15th of July because there are no henchmen and there is no Paul,” said Weir. “Do you agree with that?”

“No.”

“Do you have any explanation for this $2,000 in cash?”

Again, Berry replied that he didn’t remember.

In late August, the henchmen visited him again, Berry testified, putting him on the phone to Paul, who tore a strip off him for not having the money. Paul asked him for his keys and Berry said he didn’t ask the loan shark what he wanted them for.

“I was just glad to get out of it,” said Berry.

Weir suggested that at this point, Berry must have thought he would not be safe even in his own apartment.

“I just think at the time, I just wanted out of it.”

“Did you think how this would affect the safety of the girls?” asked Weir.

Berry replied that he did not.

“But having unknown loan sharks/drug dealers with keys to your apartment, you don’t even know their names other than Paul, with keys to your apartment and your daughters over there, must have given you quite some pause for thought, Mr. Berry,” said Weir.

“I’m just not that bright,” said Berry, appearing to tear up. “I thought it would be easy and it would be over.”

During the afternoon, Weir asked Berry to describe in more detail his suicide attempt on Nov. 28, 2017.

Looking dejected, Berry agreed that his attempt — tying a belt around his neck and around the doorknob in his bedroom — had little chance of success. Berry had no physical marks on his neck and has testified that he woke up hungover and sore.

Weir suggested Berry had not tried to commit suicide on Nov. 28 or 29, but made up the story to explain the note found in his apartment after the girls were killed.

In the three-page letter addressed to his sister, whose name is protected by a publication ban, Berry said he could no longer take the abuses from his ex-partner, Sarah Cotton, and his parents.

“You wrote that note to try to hurt your parents and try to hurt Sarah, didn’t you,” said Weir.

“I wanted my sister to blame them,” Berry agreed.

“You’re saying: ‘I committed suicide because Sarah and my mum and my dad all treated me bad,’ correct?”

“That’s what I was trying to get my sister to think,” said Berry.

“You accept zero responsibility in this note for where you ended up on November 29,” Weir said.

“In this note, yes, but in my heart and in my mind I do, I just didn’t want my sister to know that,” said Berry.

Weir questioned Berry about a trip he wanted to take to Vancouver on Dec. 8 to talk to Paul about getting an extension for his loan.

Berry said he couldn’t make the trip because Sarah was unable to pick up the girls for him that day.

“Are you making things up?” asked Weir.

Berry said no.

“You said you never took the trip because Sarah couldn’t do the pickup … Are you trying to blame Sarah for you not taking this trip and the girls getting killed as a result?” asked Weir.

Berry appeared to glare at the prosecutor.

Weir asked Berry to describe what they did on Christmas Eve. Berry testified that they woke up, had oatmeal and walked for an hour or two to the Oak Bay Recreation Centre.

They paid cash for two bags of chips and ate those while watching skaters. They went to Subway, across from Save-on-Foods, and had lunch. They came back to the recreation centre and went swimming for several hours, he said.

Berry appeared unsure of the time he went with the girls to Fairway Market that day. The jury has seen a video of the girls and Berry in the store on Christmas Eve. In the video, Berry is returning bottles and does not buy any food.

Berry told Weir that he had room for the bottles and all their swimming stuff in his knapsack.

“We had super-thin towels,” he said.

Cross-examination will continue today.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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